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Tranquil Holidays {Checklist, Video, Playlist}

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.—Helen Keller

Ah, the holidays. Despite the festivities, garlands, and twinkle lights, this time of the year can feel a bit, well, less than tranquil. To combat the chaos, I’ve tried to adjust my expectations and output over the years.

No more holiday cards. No more piles of gifts. No more trying to squeeze it all in. No more guilt. Simplicity has become my motto. The space between Christmas and New Year’s Day is my rejuvenating reset button.

Our new tradition: head to Tim’s cabin in West Virginia, go to a movie and enjoy Chinese on Christmas Day, roll out the sofa bed in front of a never-ending fire, stay on said sofa bed to read, watch documentaries, and nap. Rinse and repeat for a few days.

What would be your ideal holiday? Time alone. Time surrounded by family. Travel. Staying home. Big meals. Takeout. Candlelight service. Watch Santa’s travel on TV. Big parties. A table for two. The ways to celebrate are endless and shift as we do.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with ways to keep the holidays feeling more tranquil inside and out. While this list is not exhaustive, the suggestions are tried and true. Try those that resonate.

1. Get outside. Brisk, fresh, outdoor air helps ground me. Take in the scent of pine trees and wood smoke. Time in nature builds on a sense of interconnection. This larger view helps put things in perspective.

2. Center. During the hustle and bustle, it’s extra important to make time for self-care. Keep up your favorite centering practices such as sipping tea, sitting on a meditation cushion, writing in your journal, practicing on your yoga mat, or soaking in the tub.

3. Give. Gift your loved ones a batch of homemade jam, a beloved book, an artisanal treat from a small business, a box of their favorite tea (or whip up your own blend), or tickets to see an exhibit. Think useful and consumable. Go for experiences. Rescue an animal. Volunteer. Sponsor a farm animal. Donate to a special cause. Adopt an orangutan.

4. Compassion. This time of year can be hard. Be gentle with yourself and others. Know we’re all doing the best we can. Practice loving-kindness meditation. This may have been a hard year. Honor your growth, lessons learned, and what’s to come.

5. Breathe. When you notice your shoulders creeping up toward your ears, your heart racing while stuck in traffic, or stress building, tune into your breath. Inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, repeat. Again and again. Try this 5-minute meditation.

6. Travel with ease. Print and save the Tranquil Travel checklist on Tranquil Treasures. Save space by rolling your TranquiliT pieces into your luggage. Choose layers perfect for mixing and matching, dressing up (pearls and heels) or dressing down (clogs and denim jacket). When possible, choose off-peak travel to avoid congestion.

7. Gratitude. Appreciate the little things: a warm bath, a steaming cuppa tea, a cozy bed, a devoted pet. Studies show that expressing gratitude can lower stress levels, help you sleep better, improve self-esteem, enhance empathy, and adjust your attitude.

8. Move. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and helps offset those extra holiday cookies. Put on your hiking boots or tennis shoes and hit the trails. Roll out your yoga mat and do a few sun salutations. Grab your bike and begin pedaling.

9.  Celebrate. If you’re feeling a bit of the bah humbug blues, put on your favorite holiday film, create a playlist of festive tunes (here’s one for you!), go see The Nutcracker, and put up a few holiday decorations that evoke good memories. Review the year and list highlights.

10. Dream. Create time to daydream about the new year. What do you hope to see, taste, touch, smell, and hear in the coming year? List everything that comes to mind and focus on the experiences you hope to have.

Have 45 minutes? Watch this video where I share even more!

Any favorite tips that you infuse and I missed? Do share!

Wishing you a holiday filled with your favorite things. Let’s make this season meaningful. And tranquil. And simple. Bisous. x

P.S. Never fear, new Santa pic coming with Gizmo as soon as possible!

The Art of Evolution

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction. Hell is life drying up.—Joseph Campbell

Although it’s not yet December, I find myself in full-on contemplation mode wanting to reflect on 2018 and get clear on 2019. Clarity, always seeking clarity. As if there’s some right answer. {Hint, there’s not}.

I’ve reviewed nearly 100 responses to my recent survey and am blown away by your ideas and requests for support in topics ranging from style to mindfulness to building a business. Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness!

Through this process I’m recognizing that I need to go back to the basics and define for myself what Tranquility du Jour is. Yes, it’s a resource for finding more tranquility in the every day. And yet what are the underlying values? Things like creativity, style, dreams, self-care, giving back, eating and living well, etc.

Over the next many weeks I’ll work on clarifying this for myself and, ultimately, to help shape what’s next for the blog, podcast, and events of Tranquility du Jour.

Never fear, I don’t envision a massive shake up, but more of a deepening and streamlining into its next phase.

When searching for a quote to go with today’s post, I came across the one above by Joseph Campbell. It speaks to the importance of growing, stretching, and evolving. As we head into the winter months of hibernation and death in the natural world, I find it helpful to use this time to do the same for ourselves.

Step back, slow down, get quiet, reflect.

I’m wondering, what can we shed to make room for what 2019 has waiting for us? How do we want to evolve in the new year? Rather than a massive overhaul, let’s consider an energetic shift. Exhale. Bisous. x

Happy Thanksgiving Eve {+ Resources}

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.—John F. Kennedy

Today was my final day in Paris. The pastel-colored homes shown above are found on Rue Cremieux. Pink facades mixed with cobblestones and greenery sent my heart aflutter. I wandered, snapped photos, picked up gifts, and wrote.

After vegan nosh at Comptoir Veggie and a ginger lemon tonic at Merci, I headed home to pack  for tomorrow’s flight back to DC. I’ll arrive just in time to savor a plant-based Thanksgiving with Tim and our four furry rescues.

I hope those of you stateside are gearing up for a relaxing Thanksgiving complete with all the trimmings. If you’re looking for some healthy vegan options, here are ton of recipes.

Despite this celebratory time of the year, holidays can be hard for many. These tips from Thrive Global may come in handy. A gentle reminder to check expectations, prepare for and get curious about those triggers, and take good care of yourself in the process. Remember, compassion, compassion, compassion. And a dose of gratitude. Try this 10-minute meditation to connect with it.

As I prepare to crawl into bed, I want to say a BIG thank you for joining me on this journey. I’ve been blogging for 14 years here and I so appreciate each of you. Truly, Tranquility du Jour would just be a monologue without you. Your support means so much and, truthfully, it feels good to know I’m not alone on this quirky path called life.

I wanted to close with a poem I shared regularly when teaching a Thanksgiving charity class at Tranquil Space, “Be Thankful.” You’ll find it below. May we find ways to live our gratitude today and every day. Bisous. x

Be Thankful
Poet Unknown

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.